There are many turning points during life time. For me one huge turning point was moving abroad when I was three years old. I thought that that would be my biggest turning point but this TOMODACHI US-Japan exchange turned out to be a huge turning point. By joining this program, I was able to learn and feel many things. This was my first time to go to America so everything was new and fresh to me.
The first thing I learned throughout this program is the American culture. I have lived in Belgium and in England for around half of my life so I know a little about European culture and I also know about Japanese culture. I was very interested in America and the culture they have so this was one reason I chose to participate in this exchange. By doing a homestay, I was able to learn a lot about the culture they have. The first thing I noticed is how they eat their food. In Japan, we tend to eat as a family facing each other at one big table. Whereas at my host family’s house, everyone was eating separately at different timings. I thought this was unique so I asked a student from Japan how they are eating their food. He said that their host family eats alone as well. Also the bath was a little different from Japan. In Japan, we have a space to clean our bodies out side the bath tub whereas in Europe and America, there is only a bath tub. By doing a homestay, I was able to learn a lot about the interesting differences we have and the American people have.
The second thing I learned by joining this program is that there are many different “wealth ranks” throughout the world. I went to a private school in elementary school and junior high school and I am going to a private school now so I did not notice the huge difference in wealth people have. By doing volunteering; handing out food to poor people, I was able to see the not so bright side of the society as well. We do have poverty in Japan too but it is not as vivid as it is in the US, so it was a great chance for me to see the unfair wealth distribution of tax. The difference between the “one percent” and the poor people.
The last thing I learned was english! The program was in English and there were many difficult vocabulary and terms so it was a great lesson for me. This program will help me pass an english exam we have in Japan so it was great spending time in the US.
To conclude, I was able to learn mainly three things during this stay, culture, politics and, language. It was also great spending time with the students from DC so I hope to keep in touch with them for the rest of my life.
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School